Korean government pledges again for fight against game addiction

The government budget for fighting game addiction will be raised 10-fold from 500 million won now to 5 billion won ($ 4.4 mil.) to offer better counseling and treatment to game addicts.

And the ‘fatigue system’ are adopted to more online games, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST) and the Korea Association of Game Industry (KAOGI) jointly announced on 8th March. In Massive Multiple Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) with ‘fatigue system’, you have restrictions on gaining ‘experience point’ or valuable items as you play game more than predetermined period. So you don’t have incentives to play game excessively.

MCST and KAOGI hurried to announce these policies to curb the game addiction over the concern for dark side of online gaming is fueled recently. Korean people are now in the shock due to series of astonishing news related to games. A couple were arrested for neglecting their 3-month old daughter and letting her starved to death last week. Before that a man in his 20’s was arrested for killing his mother scolding him play game too much. During the Lunar New Year holidays, a man died suddenly after playing game 5 straight days in PC-Bang (internet cafe).

It seemed government was pressed to show that they are doing something to fight against game addiction. Most of the measures mentioned in a media briefing – given by the minister himself – are nothing new, but something the government and game companies are already carrying out or preparing.

I hope the measures will succeed in curing the dark side of online gaming. But it is doubtful whether they are proper measures to solve the problems. For example, you cannot gain valuable virtual assets any more after you play more than predetermined period in online games with fatigue system. But most of time, the fatigue system is applied to only one character (or avatar) while a player can raise many characters (usually up to 5~6) with one account. Your character is fatigued? Then, why not play another character? In most cases, introducing fatigue system resulted in more play time for gamers and more spending on virtual items.

Government, industry, schools and civil activists all try to curb the game addiction. But does it really help if you think game is bad and if you just want to control the time people play game (or root out the games).

First of all, we may need to discuss what game addiction is (if it exists) and whether game is the only thing that is to blame for those scaring accidents. Blaming games may mislead you not to see the real problems.

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